Green Freeport plan could add 19,400 jobs in qualified areas

The Scottish Government has been accused of "dodgy sums" as two green freeport schemes are set to deliver tens of thousands fewer jobs than were initially promised. According to a report from the Subsidy Advice Unit (SAU[1]), a part of the UK's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), a total of 19,400 jobs will be delivered through the Forth and Inverness and Cromarty Firth Green Freeport schemes. That's well short of the 50,000 pledged in the Forth Green Freeport bid, and the 25,000 new jobs promised by Inverness and Cromarty Firth.

While those initial figures claim wider benefits such as increased commercial investment across the UK, Scottish Labour has accused the Scottish Government of "resorting to dodgy sums and spin". Economy spokesperson, Daniel Johnson MSP, said: "Scottish Labour strongly supports the development of infrastructure through the Green Freeports, however, we urgently need a wider strategy to deliver green jobs and growth in Scotland. "There is a clear need to improve the consenting process for the raft of renewables projects which are being developed.

"Once again the SNP appears to be resorting to dodgy sums and spin. "While it makes more grand promises for the future, the SNP is squandered the opportunities they have to deliver jobs and build confidence in Scottish supply chains right now, including in their shambolic handling of the Berwick Bank project."

(C) Supplied by Scottish ParliamentLabour MSP Daniel Johnson. Source: Scottish Parliament

Evolving job estimates

The SAU's report evaluated the two bodies' modelling exercises for the scheme, which said that the subsidy scheme could add 19,400 jobs to the projects, Forth Green Freeport (FGF) and Inverness and Cromarty Firth Green Freeport (ICFGF).

Other estimates have suggested that freeport status for Inverness and Cromarty Firth could result in up to 10,000 new jobs[2] across the Highlands and generate up to GBP3 billion for the local economy. A Scottish Government spokesperson explained: "Estimates of the jobs created - both directly and indirectly - by Scotland's two Green Freeports have evolved since the applications were first submitted nearly two years ago, as plans have been developed and refined and business cases submitted for scrutiny. "The Scottish Government expects significant numbers of jobs to be created both in the Green Freeports themselves and further afield, as a result of the economic activity the programme will stimulate."

Green Freeport subsidy

The Green Freeport scheme provides start-up funding and tax relief for qualifying projects.

The programme aims to both drive employment and investment in the ports and surrounding areas, they aim to support the energy transition by providing bases for offshore wind projects. The SAU's evaluation of the scheme added that the Scottish Government and DLUHC have carefully considered the scheme's compliance with subsidy control principles. However, it said that the Scottish Government and DLUHC should give further consideration to the broader potential competitive impact of freeports.

This includes considering the impact of other freeports, or similar investment zones, in the past and assessing the likelihood of those applying to Green Freeports. They should also consider the potential negative impacts that the scheme may have on other ports. The projects can benefit from a package of tax and other incentives designed to boost innovation, create new green jobs while upholding environmental protections and supporting economic transformation.

In addition, a local authority within each freeport will be allocated around GBP25 million of seed capital funding, primarily to use on supporting projects which address local market failures and unlock sites for development.

The Forth and Cromarty Firth projects were confirmed in 2023[3].

Earlier this year, the UK and Scottish governments agreed to extend tax breaks[4] for projects linked to Scotland's Green Freeports for another five years to 2034.

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  1. ^ SAU (
  2. ^ 10,000 new jobs (
  3. ^ confirmed in 2023 (
  4. ^ extend tax breaks (
  5. ^ Green Volt approval could bring supply chain boost to north-east Scotland (